Ebony Pride seeks new location for Aug. 27 festival
Negotiations fall through with World Beat Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza after alleged pressure from anti-gay activist
Published Thursday, 18-Aug-2005 in issue 921
Ebony Pride was left scrambling for a venue to host their event last Friday after negotiations with the World Beat Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza fell through two weeks before the event was scheduled to take place.
Though Ebony Pride said they had already paid a deposit to secure the venue, possible problems with fire-safety regulations – specifically the absence of a sprinkler system and questions about maximum occupancy limits inside the World Beat Center – left facility managers uneasy about hosting the event.
Makeda Dread, founder of the World Beat Center, told the Gay & Lesbian Times that ex-gay agitator James Hartline was putting pressure on the police department, the city and the fire department to shut the event down because the building was not in compliance with fire-safety codes, and that she has been getting calls from Balboa Park officials concerned about compliance. The World Beat Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza are located adjacent to each other along Park Boulevard in Balboa Park.
San Diego fire marshal Sam Oats told the Gay & Lesbian Times that the fire department had no record of a complaint filed by Hartline, and that regulations for the World Beat Center, which is a converted water tank, are blank in the department’s computer system. The person in charge of special event regulations for the World Beat Center was unavailable for comment as of press time.
The World Beat Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza, which have hosted GLBT events in the past including an Ebony Pride film festival two years ago and San Diego LGBT Youth Pride earlier this year, said regardless of Hartline’s motivation for pointing out the fire-safety issue, their concerns were based on the need to keep the center operating within its legal limits as a public facility.
Both Dread and Nancy Rodriguez, director of Centro Cultural de la Raza, said they are still willing to work with Ebony Pride to host the event there next year, and Dread said that despite added pressure to comply with regulations, Ebony Pride could still have taken place there this year as long as “all the Is were dotted and the Ts were crossed.”
She added, “I’m doing it next year. And I will get fully involved in it. … This place belongs to gay, straight – everybody. A united people will never be defeated.”
Ebony Pride co-chair Ken Riley said the non-profit African-American GLBT organization is now searching for another venue to host the event, which is scheduled for Aug. 27, but that Dread is meeting with his organization this week to discuss the possibility of still holding the event there this year.
“I feel institutions shouldn’t get pressured by this guy [Hartline],” Dread said. “… We’re living in a day and time where bigotry and hatred won’t win.”
Riley said Ebony Pride may have to be cancelled this year if they can’t come to an agreement with Dread, and that the situation is made more difficult because all of their advertising so far has been geared toward Ebony Pride taking place at the World Beat Center.